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The Sleepycat Inside Panther

The Sleepycat Inside Panther

by , 11:00 AM EST, October 31st, 2003

Servers are a far different animal than a desktop systems; its OS must manage account information for all who login to it or use its services, such as shared file systems and print services. Apple's OS X Server uses an Open Source technology called Open Directory 2 to manage such mundane, but all-important tasks; if you mount a filesystem from a server, use a server based address book, or get e-mail, you used some component of Open Directory to do it. The basis of Open Directory is its imbedded database which contains the dynamic information necessary for OS X Server by way of Open Directory, to do its job.

Along with Panther's release for the desktop, Apple also released Mac OS X 10.3 Server. With the server OS release, Apple seems to be making a serious bid for more respect from the IT world; part of that comes with the inclusion of Sleepycat Software's Berkeley DB, which is used in Panther in conjunction with Open Directory.

It's OK if Sleepycat Software and Berkeley DB are new names to you, though to developers of world class systems, the company and the software are quite familiar. Berkeley DB is an imbedded database application, and can be found in systems from HP, Sun, Cisco, and Motorola, to name a few..

This is important news for IT folks because it pretty much defines Apple's Xserve running OS X Panther Server as true enterprise-class server with enterprise-class security and services. This announcement is important to Apple because it strengthens the argument to include Apple in corporate IT strategies, not only as support servers, but as enterprise servers, key servers that businesses can depend on.

TMO caught up with Sleepycat's CEO, Mike Olson and asked him to elaborate on what this announcement means to Mac users:

"What users really want is a predictable, responsive computer. Increasingly, the Mac platform offers sophisticated network services. Good examples are the use of Open Directory 2 to provide a common identification and preference engine, and the Kerberos software to provide encryption and authentication for applications on the platform.

"The end user really doesn't want to know that there's a transaction-protected storage engine behind these two network services. However, she does have a right to expect that if the power fails unexpectedly, or if she interrupts some application before it finishes so she can do something else, none of her preferences or passwords will be lost.

"The user's view of the platform is, properly, that it provides high-level services via an easy-to-navigate UI. Underneath that UI, Apple has chosen to use Berkeley DB in a number of places to guarantee that the user will never be surprised by lost data. Berkeley DB is fast, so the user doesn't have to wait for the computer to find crucial information in order to do her job.

"In short, Berkeley DB is important to end users because they don't even need to know that it's there. The Mac OS X platform does the right thing and behaves predictably. The end user never has to worry about the plumbing."

Offering services to such IT heavyweights as SUN and HP, we wondered why Sleepycat felt that its inclusion in OS X Panther is a big deal. Mike Olson had this to say:

"Apple builds the coolest consumer computing platforms in the world. On that basis alone, we're thrilled that Apple has chosen Berkeley DB as the embedded storage engine for so much of the software it distributes. We're geeky enough here to be proud that everyone carrying an iBook G4 is running our software.

"From both a technical and a business perspective, though, we believe that this is also an important step.

"On the technical side, Apple's adoption of DB means that Apple's customers can expect the same enterprise-grade reliability that the big server vendors have provided for years. The desktop historically has been a dangerous place -- unexpected shutdowns or crashed applications could destroy critical data. Berkeley DB eliminates that risk for the applications that use it.

"On the business side, we believe that Apple has built an interesting server platform, and that new applications will emerge over the next several years that run high-end network-based services on Apple hardware. Developers of those systems are Sleepycat's core market. We're very happy to be on the Apple platform, in a position to serve those new customers."

For more information about Sleepycat Software and its Berkeley DB please stop by the Sleepycat Web site.

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